Beach HP Teams Hope to be Podium Bound

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans | July 31, 2018, 11 p.m. (ET)

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (July 31, 2018) – Main draw play at the USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships began Tuesday with 210 teams from around the United States and Australia, Canada and Puerto Rico competing.

For U.S. teams to compete, athletes must either be a part of the 2018 A1 National Training Team or qualify through the 2018 A2 program at selected competitions.

Three teams from different parts of the United States spoke with USA Volleyball about where they are on the Path to the Podium.

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Team: Saylor Little (Long Beach, Calif.) and Julia Waugh (Yorba Linda, Calif.)
Division: Girls’ U15

 U.S. girls beach volleyball players
Saylor Little, left, and Julia Waugh

How did you start playing beach volleyball?
Little: My coach for indoor (Tiffany Rodriguez) said I should start playing beach because she thought I would be good at it.
Waugh: My friend from indoor said I should start playing beach with her and it was really fun.

How is the tournament going for you?
Little: We used to be full-time partners, but we haven’t played together in a year. We’re jelling back together. We lost both of our games. But we’re having fun.

Is there a volleyball player you look up to?
Waugh: Kelly Claes
Little: Sarah Hughes

What are your goals for volleyball?
Little: I want to go to USC and play in the Olympics
Waugh: I want to get a gold medal

What music gets you pumped up to play volleyball?
Little: Pop songs
Waugh: I like Believer by Imagine Dragons

Team: Haley Moore (Washington) and Sam Johnson (Washington)
Division: Girls’ U19

Girls u19 Beach volleyball team 
 Sam Johnson, left, and Haley Moore

How did you get started playing beach volleyball?
Moore: Both of us were indoor players. One of our indoor coaches started a beach club (Dakine Volleyball) and we decided to hop on that wagon. It’s been the best for us ever since.
Johnson: We both started before it became a real club.
Moore: Before it became a real club, we would just play in little tournaments. In Seattle, it’s not like Cali, you can’t go to any beach and just play. It’s been nice. We now have an indoor facility and can train year-round.

What do you like about beach volleyball?
Johnson: I like that you have to have a very good metal game. You’re going to touch a ball on every single play, so you always have to have a very positive attitude. You can’t drop down because then you and your partner will fold.

Moore: I like that it’s really independent. It’s really independent but really chill at the same time.

Where would you like your volleyball career to take you?
Moore: I hope to play in college.
Johnson: I’m going to be playing indoor for college, but I’m going to be coaching both beach and indoor at Dakine. I’ll be playing at the University of Puget Sound.

Is there a food you have to have before a match?
Johnson: My two favorite foods are chicken and ice cream.
Moore: They don’t work out too well before a match.

Team: Sammy Gibson (Long Beach, N.Y.) and Joe Osmani (Clearwater, Fla.)
Division: Boys’ U19

Boys' beach volleyball players
Joe Osmani, left, and Sammy Gibson 

How did you get together?
Osmani: We saw each other at the tryouts here in California. I made the A1 team and so did he. We became good friends and enjoy hanging out.

What are you learning at this tournament?
Osmani: I’m looking at it like the best coaches out here. They’re putting plays in our minds that are going to happen. You’ve got to listen to them to get better.
Gibson: I’m learning that preparation is key. In hindsight, I wish I did a few things different before the last match that are non-volleyball related. I’ll take care of that next time. The sand is definitely hotter than anything on the East Coast.

Do you play indoor as well?
Gibson: I’m going to play at Hunter College in New York City.
Osmani: I never played indoor. I have only been playing two years now. I played in a beach fours tournament that my cousin put on and I really liked it so I just kept playing beach.
Gibson: I wish that was me.

Where do you hope to go with your volleyball?
Osmani: We’ve got the best coaches. I’m trying to get better; AVP. We just played the qualifier there. We won the first round so.
Gibson: Same thing. I want to be in the scene for as long as possible.

Are there any volleyball players you look up to?
Gibson: I look up to Chase Frishman. A lot of people tell me I look like him to the point where people have thought I was him. Then they see me play and they think I’m good, but maybe not that good.
Osmani: I like Sean Rosenthal; his style and all that.

What gets you pumped up to play a match
Osmani: Talking with my partner. Talking about what we’re going to do.
Gibson: Music, it’s all about the beats.